Aims: To investigate bacterial contamination on hand-touch surfaces in the public transport system and in public areas of a hospital in central London.
Methods and results: Dipslides were used to sample 118 hand-touch surfaces in buses, trains, stations, hotels and public areas of a hospital in central London. Total aerobic counts were determined, and Staphylococcus aureus isolates were identified and characterized. Bacteria were cultured from 112 (95%) of sites at a median concentration of 12 CFU cm(-2). Methicillin-susceptible Staph. aureus (MSSA) was cultured from nine (8%) of sites; no sites grew methicillin-resistant Staph. aureus (MRSA).
Conclusions: Hand-touch sites in London are frequently contaminated with bacteria and can harbour MSSA, but none of the sites tested were contaminated with MRSA.
Significance and impact of the study: Hand-touch sites can become contaminated with staphylococci and may be fomites for the transmission of bacteria between humans. Such sites could provide a reservoir for community-associated MRSA (CA-MRSA) in high prevalence areas but were not present in London, a geographical area with a low incidence of CA-MRSA.